HMCS Calgary’s Sailor First Class Cindy Veilleux

S1 Veilleux verifies inventory as part of her job as a Materials Management Technician aboard HMCS Calgary. Photo by Corporal Lynette Ai Dang, HMCS Calgary, Imagery Technician

S1 Veilleux verifies inventory as part of her job as a Materials Management Technician aboard HMCS Calgary.
Photo by Corporal Lynette Ai Dang, HMCS Calgary, Imagery Technician

Capt Jeff Klassen
HMCS Calgary
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After a career fighting insurgents as a Combat Engineer with the Canadian Army in Afghanistan, Sailor First Class Cindy Veilleux is back.

This time she is fighting terrorism with HMCS Calgary as it sails the Middle East on counter-smuggling operations.

S1 Veilleux grew up in Saint-Georges, QC, and attended Polyvalente De Saint-Georges before moving to Sherbrooke and attending Polyvalente Le Phare. In 2006, at 20 years old, she joined the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) as a Combat Engineer, following the choice of a close friend.

“He talked to me about the teamwork and the close bonds you make in the Canadian Armed Forces. Also, the science and technical aspects of Combat Engineering really appealed to me. He also told me all about being a Combat Engineer and all the science and technical knowledge; that really appealed to me. That, and working with explosives,” said S1 Veilleux.

She served in Afghanistan for seven months patrolling with an infantry unit. Her job was to search for improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and help breach entranceways into buildings. She was frequently the only woman working in her camp. In Afghanistan, her unit found that local women would be very hesitant to speak with men, especially men who were soldiers. Because of these particular cultural sensitivities, S1 Veilleux would frequently interact with local women on behalf of the team.

“It happened a few times that there was a group of women in a room and they literally grabbed me because they were so curious. They wanted to know about my tattoos and why a woman was marching with these men,” she said. “My time in Afghanistan changed my perception of life. I’m very grateful to be born in Canada.”

Sailor First Class Cindy Veilleux on the forecastle of HMCS Calgary as it sails into Muara, Brunei, during Operation Projection.  Photo by Captain Jeffery Klassen, HMCS Calgary Public Affairs Officer

Sailor First Class Cindy Veilleux on the forecastle of HMCS Calgary as it sails into Muara, Brunei, during Operation Projection.
Photo by Captain Jeffery Klassen, HMCS Calgary Public Affairs Officer

She left the CAF in 2013 to work in the railway industry but re-enlisted in 2018 – this time as a Material Management Technician in the Royal Canadian Navy.

“In the civilian world I discovered that I really like to do paperwork. Also, I thought as a Combat Engineer I was wasting my biggest skill which is to be social. As a Material Management Technician I get to deal with everyone. It’s a great fit for me,” she said.

S1 Veilleux’s job includes storing and distributing items ranging from critical parts for multi-million dollar weapons systems to Calgary-branded ball caps.

“What I really like about the navy is the opportunity to travel to so many different places, and you have a warm meal and bed every night as well. A lot of people don’t realize this, but in addition to our main trade in the navy we also learn a lot of general seamanship and that is incredibly rewarding.”

Calgary is having great success on its current deployment, Operation Artemis, which is a counter-smuggling and counter-terrorism operation in the Middle Eastern sea. It’s working with the multinational Combined Task Force 150, which operates under the 34-nation coalition known as Combined Maritime Forces.

Within days of beginning the operation in April, the ship made a record-breaking heroin bust, the biggest in the history of Combined Maritime Forces. In June, the ship set another record for most individual seizures by any ship on an operational rotation. The intention of the drug seizures is to dismantle the revenue streams of regional terrorists and criminal organizations.

“It’s great to be out here making a difference again,” said S1 Veilleux.

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Filed Under: Top Stories

About the Author: The Lookout Newspaper can trace its history back to April 1943 when CFB Esquimalt’s first newspaper was published. Since then, Lookout has grown into the award winning source for Pacific Navy News. Leading the way towards interactive social media reach, we are a community resource newspaper growing a world wide audience.

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